In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain makes a stinging observation on the overtly religious. “Faith is when you believe something you know ain’t true.” This is a perfect description of the religious asylum that is now the Republican Party and the tortured gospel they are spreading all over the country. Virtually the entire barnyard of their presidential candidates are preaching a mix of born again religious revivalism and brutal 19th century industrial capitalism, that they “know ain’t even remotely true.”
By and large these are not genetically stupid people. But the political trash talking they feel obligated to serve up to the Tea Party Gods--Rush Limbaugh and the inquisitors at Fox--has degenerated into a competition of who can do the best impression of an absolute lunatic. Rick Perry is preaching virtual secession from the union, while holding prayer vigils for God to solve our problems. By what twisted logic does contempt for the federal government and even secession equate to patriotism? Someone please show me where the founding fathers advocated prayer as the vehicle for solving a national debt crisis?
Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have flip flopped on virtually every position they ever espoused so that their insanity titers can match Michelle Bachmann's. I’ve met with Jon Huntsman on more than one occasion regarding environmental issues in Utah. He was a reasonable moderate Republican as my state’s governor and appeared on TV ads three years ago exhorting the entire country to act on the climate crisis. He did that because he respected the warnings of our climate scientists. Now he says we can't deal with global warming in a depressed economy. He knows perfectly well that those same scientists are warning that if we don’t act on it right now, we condemn our children to a brutal, dangerous and likely unlivable world. Newt Gingrich? He appeared on national TV ads with Nancy Pelosi saying that he agreed on the urgency to deal with the climate crisis. Now he looks like a Keystone Cop, tripping over his own feet in full speed reverse.
Sarah Palin? Oh, never mind. Rick Santorum? According to him the world’s scientists are all in on a conspiracy with Al Gore. Really Rick? That conspiracy would have to have started in 1824 when the greenhouse gas phenomenon was first described by the French scientist Joseph Fourier. It would have to have involved scores of scientists in the 1800s like John Tyndall of the Royal Institute of Great Britain, George Marsh, the founder of the Smithsonian Institute, and hundreds of scientists in the 1900s like 1903 Nobel Prize winner Svante Arrhenius. The conspiracy would now have to involve virtually the entire world’s scientific community. That makes sense to you, Rick? Really?
Almost as irritating is the chorus sung over and over by Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and 99% of Republican Congressmen proudly declaring their Huckleberry Finn type faith that an unfettered free market is the only way to create to millions of new jobs. “Stop choking businesses with excessive regulations!” they chant. All businesses, all regulations. Really, Mitch? Never mind that it was precisely the elimination of, inadequacy of, or lack of enforcement of federal regulation that allowed Wall St. to drag the economy to the edge of the apocalypse and the very reason why there are no jobs. Never mind that it was poor regulation and free market cost cutting that brought us the Deep Water Horizon, Kalamazoo River, and now Yellowstone River oil spills. 1,800 oil spills have occurred in this country in the last five years totaling 16 million gallons of oil contaminating our land and water. And Mitt, you want regulators to get off the backs of the oil companies? Really?
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Never mind that it was inadequate federal oversight and greedy, unfettered capitalism on steroids that allowed Massey Energy to commit manslaughter on 29 coal miners last year. Hey, Eric just what jobs are created by paring down our already bare bones federal food inspection? Will even more outbreaks of e-coli and salmonella in peanut butter, spinach, eggs, cantaloupe, sprouts and hamburger be counted as just collateral blessings from unleashing the free market? We certainly don’t want to pay for inspection of imported sea food from Japan because a little radioactivity in your tuna fish and scallops would probably just make it taste a little more crunchy.
Hey Newt, what jobs will be created by eviscerating the EPA and their enforcement of the Clean Air Act besides morticians and health care providers? Michelle, so you’re comfortable with eliminating money for bridge inspectors from the National Transportation Safety Board because the one that collapsed in your home state in 2007 only killed 13 people, and that’s a small price to pay for that warm, orgasmic tingle only the free market can give?
Lets certainly get regulators off the backs of the pharmaceutical industry because other than the millions of people who have been killed or injured by Phen-Fen, Vioxx, Avandia, Bextra, Cylert, Baycol, Palladone, Trasylol, Tylenol, Darvocet, Heparin and all the drugs now made with ingredients from China without any real standards or controls--i.e. most of them--there's no reason to think an unregulated free market won’t work out just fine. Really, Sarah? So if defective and tainted drugs weed out the weak among us, that’s just the beauty of the Ayn Rand/Milton Friedman world view?
The entire middle class is struggling with unemployment, under employment, mounting debt, lost pensions, mortgages foreclosed or underwater, and you want to undo even the pathetic protections of the 2010 Consumer Protection Act and put Elizabeth Warren’s head on a platter? Really, Speaker Boehner? That’s the job elixir the middle class so desperately need?
As with most religions the Church of Unfettered Capitalism doesn’t have to make sense in order to thrive. But it does need preachers at the pulpit exhorting us to “believe in things that we know ain’t true” and the Republican Party can't get enough of them. Huckleberry Finn would be so proud.